Aizawl: While States in the Northeast except Assam hardly grab national headlines for the right reasons, Mizoram has set an example this National Voters’ Day, which is worthy of emulation by the nation. While Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan launching a voters’ helpline number (1950) may not be a novelty, a mobile application for the disabled is worthy of appreciation.
In July 2018, the Election Commission of India had said it was exploring special provisions for ‘persons with disabilities’ (PwD) like early voting, voting in advance, voting from home, transport assistance, mobile polling station, postal vote, etc, but Mizoram has gone ahead with the execution of the plan.
Some legislation may be required to bring in other measures, as letting a set of citizens vote before everybody else is fraught with some risks. While early voting refers to reserving a time slot for PwDs on the voting day, advance voting implies that the PwDs can vote even before the polling day has arrived.
Since last year, some measures have been taken, as observed during the recent Assembly elections. These include photo identity cards in Braille, sign language window for deaf voters and transport facility with an assistant in every vehicle. Centrally, a mobile app was made too, as in Mizoram, but its use is limited to motivating PwDs to vote.
On Friday, Mizoram governor Rajasekharan congratulated the people of the State, law enforcement officials, polling officials, civil societies and churches for the peaceful and free and fair conduct of election to the 40-member state legislature held on 28 November last year.
The governor appealed to all voters to exercise their franchise in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and ensure peaceful conduct of the polls.
State chief electoral officer Ashish Kundra said that the electronic voting machines’ (EVM) reliability was proven and statements questioning it was unwarranted.
Kundra said that the Election Commission was fully prepared to conduct the Parliamentary polls.
What the disabled still await
The Election Commission had contemplated introducing several other facilities last year, but these provisions are yet to be put in place:
- mapping of the disabled voters
- initial voter registration
- customised voting facilities for electorates with different kinds of disabilities
- disabled-friendly websites
- capacity building by government-NGO cooperation
- special committees on accessible elections